As I am finishing my last week of the Spring 2021 semester, I have realized a few things. This is my last week of all online classes and exams. This is my last week of being an online college student. It may not be my last week of Zoom, but it is the last week where all my learning will be done alone in front of a computer. This week I realized that next semester I will finally be in-person again.
For the past two and a half semesters I have been attending school online through Zoom, something a lot of college students can relate to. We have missed out on college experiences that those before us were able to have. Even though it will not be how it was before the pandemic, I am starting to feel happy because I know I am returning to campus in the fall. I am excited to get back to school in person, to really learn alongside other people. Personally, going to school online has not felt like learning to me. I have had to teach myself topics because it is harder to understand and communicate online. Yes, this has been a learning experience for everyone, but I do not want to continue learning online. I want to sit in a classroom of my peers and have open conversations in class, not worry about my computer mic not working when I try to unmute. I want to see who I am in class with, not read their names in black boxes across a screen because no one turns their cameras on. I want to feel like I am in college again.
Not only will I be returning to campus, but also to New York City. I have not been back since I had to clean out my dorm room in March 2020. I have not been on the subway or gone for late night pizza with my friends in over a year. I am starting to get excited about going back. I have not let myself think about it in a while because I thought I was returning for Fall 2020, but that did not happen. I did not want to get my hopes up again and then be upset when it did not happen. It is happening now though. My classes are in person again and I cannot wait to be back in a classroom. I can not wait to take art classes again because I stopped taking them while we were online. Painting or drawing by myself and then holding it up to a screen so my classmates could see what I was doing was not beneficial. We did not learn from each other anymore; I want to learn from those around me and grow together.
Before we went online, I do not think I understood how important it was to be in a classroom with professors and students. I would long for the emails that said class was cancelled, but now I just want to get back to really having class. I want to meet everyone I met online in person for the first time. Isn’t it crazy that we have talked to so many people online and we go to the same school, but we haven’t actually met them? Last semester I did an online internship with students from all over the world, but I don’t know any of them. Being online has made me feel disconnected from people. I go from one class to the next, one assignment to the next, one exam to the next. We do not talk to each other outside of class because we do not know each other. There is no real interaction, and I cannot wait until it is over. Soon, soon it will be over. No matter what, I will be returning to campus in the fall.
Finally, in the fall I will be able to walk around the city again. I miss going out with friends and walking to new places, trying new foods, finding old bookstores and spending hours looking through everything. The city has so much to offer, so much that I have not been able to experience in over a year. I want to have photoshoots with my friends and picnics in Central Park. Go to Seaport after classes to study because it is right by campus. Find people playing music at the park and just listen. Get pizza at midnight in our pajamas just because we can. Have paint nights where we listen to music and watch bad movies. Go to art museums again and discuss the pieces together. Not only can I not wait to get back into the classroom, but I also cannot wait to be back with my friends in a city that has so much to offer.
I have two more years left of college and I plan on making the best of them. This past year was taken away and we did not get to experience what we planned to. Now, knowing that everything can change in an instant, when I get back, I am going to take advantage of everything I can do. I want to get back to school, learn more, meet more friends, and make memories. This time online has been difficult, but I am getting excited about returning to school in the fall and making it the best it can be.